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National Park Service 

U.S. Department of the Interior 

Intermountain Region 

■ v-. ** 

Clemson Universi 

I 29.9/2:EX 7/2 

3 1604 018 983 322 

An explorers activity guide 
- for ages 5 to 12 

Junior Ranger 


ft * 

How to become a 
Junior Ranger 

Ask a Ranger at the Visitor Center if the park will have an astronomy program or telescope 
viewing while you are visiting. If they will, attend one of these programs. 

If not, make sure to do the "Take a planet walk" activity found within this book. 

How old are you? That is the number of activities you must complete to become a junior 

ranger night explorer, but feel free to do more. 

Each activity is rated by difficulty: 

* ages 5 and up. 

* * ages 8 and up. 

* * * are the most challenging. 

Look for the star ratings throughout the book and choose the activities that are right for you! 

Also be sure to check out the bold italic words and their definitions throughout the book. 




2009. Junior Ranger, Night Explorer. An explorer's activity guide for ages 5 to 12. 
Office of Interpretation and Education • Intermountain Region • National Park Service 

Cover photo — The Milky Way above Long's Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park, by Tyler 

Content — Claire Thoma, Chad Moore, Teresa Jiles, and Angie Richman. 

Graphics — Chad Moore, Lisa Lynch, and Richard Kohen. 

Layout & design — Richard Kohen and Angie Richman. 

Hand model — Laura Kohen, age 10. 

Images — Courtesy NASA image archives. 

Planisphere — Use of the planishpere courtesy National Research Council Canada. 

Support has been graciously provided by Curecanti National Recreation Area, the National 

Park Service Night Sky Program, and the Student Conservation Association. 

Exploring with your senses 

The 24-hour pattern of light — day, sunset, night, and sunrise affects 

N °cturnal 

r,be s an an/m £ 

3nds »h "days' 

is dark, but there are many creatures that wake up when we go to bed. \, „;.; 

In fact, there is an entire nocturnal ecosystem that is an important part 

of nature. These nocturnal animals have adapted to the night. For example, 

bats bounce sound waves off objects to fly in the dark and catch insects. Deer, owls, and 

mountain lions have large eyes to let in more light, and can see just fine by starlight. 




Spend some time outside in the park during the 
day, as the sun is setting, and at night. Record 
the differences in what you see, smell, and hear 
at each time of day. 

* Record one sense. 
* * Record two senses. 
* * * Record three senses. 


Astounding Sun 


Activity on the Sun where super-hot 

gas is shooting off of the surface and then falling 

back down in an arc or loop. 

Sunspots are areas where the surface of the Sun is a 

bit cooler, which will appear darker than the 

rest of the surface. 


ov &* S 

Ul traVl wUo^ 

Our sun, which is named "Sol," is the nearest 
star to us and is the brightest star in the sky. 
Like all stars, Sol is a giant ball of boiling gas. It is so 

big that one million Earths can fit inside! Special telescopes and satellites that are made 

for looking at the sun show us that its surface is always changing. 
Surface explosions called prominences shoot hot gas into 
space and Sunspots appear as dark spots. Over time they will 
change places on the surface of the sun. 
Remember, never look directly at the sun! 
The sun shines light in all the colors of the rainbow. 
It also shines other types of light like ultraviolet and 
infrared. Our eyes cannot see ultraviolet light, but we 
know it exists because it will burn our skin if we stay 
outside too long without sunscreen. Other types of light 
from the sun are even more harmful. Luckily for us the 
Earth is protected by an atmosphere that contains ozone, 
which blocks ultraviolet and other harmful types of light. 


beca^ se . 

oo^ ee 




3V eS 



* Label a sunspot, a prominence, and the ozone layer on the picture above. 

* * Do the above and think of another type of harmful light that the atmosphere blocks. 
(Hint: It is used in hospitals to look at your bones!) What is it? 

* ft 

Stargazing is great, but it is always more 
fun when you are prepared! 

• Wear warm clothes. It can get cold 
and windy at night. 

• Bring water, a snack, and a chair 

to sit on. 

• Use a red flashlight to move 
around at night. (White light will 
spoil your night vision.) 

• Bring a starchart or planisphere 
to find the constellations. 

• Use binoculars to look at 
planets and star clusters. 

• Try not to bump stargazers' 
telescopes or touch the 

• Most importantly, bring lots 
of time and curiosity! 

f^ art ^gazing 

Word search 

* Find five of the orange words in the word search puzzle. (Hint: Look for vertical, horizontal, 
and even backwards words.) 
* * Find all of the the orange words in the word search. 
* * * Find all of the the orange words in the word search. Then look at the letters in the word 

search table that are not circled. Starting with the first letter, write each leftover letter on 
the blanks below to discover the hidden message. (Some of the letters are already 
written for you.) 


ft * 


should the 

light go? 

This lamp protects the 
night sky and animals 
by only shining light 
down to the ground. 

This lamp wastes 
light and beams it 
into the sky: it goes 

This lamp shines light 
everywhere except 
where it is needed: on 
the ground. 

Humans are creatures who have adapted to do most of our activities 
during the day. When we do things at night, we need light. But, 
light is a tool we must learn to use responsibly. Outdoor lamps 
are often too bright or point up into the sky. They add to light 
pollution, and when light pollution is really bad, we cannot see the 
stars, and nocturnal animals often get disoriented and confused. 



What do the lamps at your home look like? 

* Mark an "X" over the wasteful 
lamps (left) and circle better lamps. 

* * Draw an "X" over wasteful lamps 
and circle good ones. Draw a triangle 
around one that is like what you see 
at this park. 

Nocturnal animals 

* * Draw a line from each picture to its description. 
Tk * * What can you do to help the nocurnal animals where you live? 




My hatchlings emerge from the sand and know to crawl toward the 
brighter whitecaps on the ocean, but light pollution can send them 

in the wrong direction. 

I am unable to resist being drawn to a light, and may fly for over a 
mile to your porchlight. 

I used to find my favorite foods- moths and gnats- everywhere I flew. 
But now I must commute much further to the city for my dinner. 

I crawl from pond to pond with a compass in my head keeping me 
on course. But too much light turns me around, and I can't find my 

watery home. 

Lights from tall buildings and houses confuse me during migration 
each fall. I must be careful, or I can crash into one of those shiny 

bright windows 

My flickering tail will attract a mate, but only if she can see me 
among the many streetlights. 



How dark is the sky? 

The stars are always there, but we cannot always see them. The farther 
away from sources of light pollution you are, the more stars you can 
see. Astronomers measure the darkness of the sky in something called 
limiting magnitude where 7 is the best and is the worst. Follow the 
directions below to estimate how dark the sky is at this park. 

* * Below are pictures of how many stars you can see at different limiting magnitudes. Choose 
the picture you think best matches the sky at this park and circle it. 

(Hint: If it's summer, use the Big Dipper. If it's winter, use Orion. Also use the star wheel in the 
center of the book to help you find these constellations. 


* * When you get home, calculate the magnitude of the sky from your backyard. Write it here. 

Can you see more or fewer stars at your home? Why do you think this is? 

ft * 

New Moon 




Full Moon 




Changing faces of the Moon 


is the path, 
usually an oval, of a 
on around a planet or 
iet around a star. 

j i 

IS days for the moon to 

rbi\ ad the 

travels around our planet, different sections of it are lit up. When the whole 

face of the moon is lit, it is called "full." When none of the moon is lit, it is called "new." 

While the moon is growing from "new" to "full," it is described as "waxing." 
When the moon is shrinking from "full" to "new," it is called "waning." 

* Go outside and find the moon. Shade in the shadowed part. 

* * What phase is the moon in now? 

* * * Predict the number of days until the next full moon: 

Telescope eyes 

If possible, attend an astronomy program and telescope viewing. 

* Look through a telescope. In a circle (below), draw 
what you can see in the field of view. 

* * Ask the telescope operator to tell you about the 
object, and write down what you learn. 
* * * Look at a second object in the telescope and 
repeat the activity. 

Object name: 

Object type: 


One thing I learned about this object: 

Object name: 
Object type: _ 

One thing I learned about this object: 


Using a planisphere 

* Cut out the star wheel (planisphere) below and the holder (on the next 

page). Carefully cut out the middle of the holder. Fold the flaps on the holder 

back, and insert the star wheel. Turn the wheel until the date appears above the 

time that you are out at night. The constellations visible at that time appear in the window 

— ^ * ft 

Face South and hold the planisphere above your head and look up at it. The constellations in the middle of 
the oval should be directly above your head (at the zenith). The constellations on the left side of the oval 
should be to your left on the eastern horizon. The constellations on the right side of the oval should be to 
your right on the western horizon. The stars on the bottom of the wheel (South) should be directly in front of 
you, and those on the top of the wheel (North) should be behind you. 





i null 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 n ii 



# Corona , -^ 

l Borealis^\ V-/ 

Bootes x 


U = 


Coma Berenices 

Ursa Major 

Big Dipper . - 

V s-Hercules 

Ursa Minor 

Little Dipper 




\ \ 






Canis Minor 

'erseus m?— \ 

Aries \ 


Betelgeuse . TaUrUS 

Canis Major 




1 1 



I I I I I I I Ml 


Use scissors to cut out the planisphere. Cut just outside the thick border. 

ft * 

Did you notice? 

The stars in the upper corners change color from page to page. Stars come in 
many different colors, and their color tells us what temperature they are. Hotter 
stars are blue, while ones that aren't so hot are red. Our star, the sun, is yellow, 
and is a medium temperature star. Really really hot stars shine in ultraviolet 
light, while those that are only warm emit energy as infrared light. 

A star can change color by changing its temperature. As stars grow older they 
often cool down in temperature and thus may appear more red. By studying the 
colors of stars, astronomers learn about their birth, life, and death. Check out 
the Star Formation Jumble to learn more. 

Our sun is the nearest star to us. Its 
surface temperature is 10,000°F! 

Hint: Use a red-light flashlight 

to read your star wheel in the 
dark. You can make your own 
red flashlight by covering a white 
flashlight with red cellophane or 
fingernail polish. 

Red-light flashlights are also 
available for purchase at most 
park visitor centers. 

* ft 

ft * 


* ft 

Solar system smarts 

* This is a picture of our solar system. Label each planet to see their location from the sun. 










I fc-7 

Nol to Scale 
Illustrations NASA/XCX/M 

* * Create a mnemonic to help you remember the order 
of the planets: 

W^ » in wW* * e W f he *orf= V° u ^ moons 

* e sa ^f, For exampte. «£ de , ca»«s ^ teen ^ 

students rem Cater pi\\ars.^^^ 

Take a planet walk 

* * * Start at a trailhead and pretend you 
are starting at the sun. While you walk, the 
planets' distances from the sun would be the 
number of steps you take. Place a rock or 
other object in the location of each planet. 
This walk is a total of 484 steps. The sun 
would be the size of an apple and the earth 
the size of the point of a pin on this scale. 

In 2007, scientists changed 
the definition of a planet, and Pluto 
ended up moving from the category 
of "planet" to the category of "minor 
planet" because: 

1 ) Pluto has an irregular (not 
circular) orbit; and 
• 2) Pluto did not clear its orbital 
path of debris. 

Based on these definitions, scientists 
either had to demote Pluto or add 
several more planets to our solar 

«*P* you made „ t o J 

Sfe PS- you have reach * 

SW. y „ Sd Earf o 

PS ' ^ ore at Mflrs 

Steps: Wel C0nie , 

■ ""* » Z It?' 

ft * 

Navigating at night 


's the height that 

*f« appears abo. 

,e of zero 

w ,s ana/t/tude f 

For over a thousand years, sailors have used the stars to find 
their way across the ocean on long voyages. As the earth 
rotates, all of the stars appear to spin around a point called the 
Celestial Pole. Because the star Polaris (also called the North Star) 
is very close to the Celestial Pole, it is the only star that does not appear 
to move during the night. Its altitude is equal to the observer's latitude (these distances 
are measured in degrees). Sailors could find their latitude by measuring how far above the 
horizon the North Star appeared. To test your own skill at navigating by the stars, go outside 
at night, and use the chart below to find Polaris. Now hold your arm out 
v straight and level to the ground. Make a fist with your thumb resting on top 
Latitude \. Q f y 0ur ^ YSt fi n g er Starting with the base of your fist straight out in front 
distance from \ of you, count how many fists you need to reach Polaris. 
/ any point on the \ 
/ Earth to the equator. \ 

The equator has _ 

a latitude of zero 
degrees, and the J 
\ North Pole has / I 

Y a latitude of 90 / 
degrees. / 


Look for the 
North Star in the sky 

Did you find it? 

* * Use the 
estimate that one fist 
is about 10 degrees. 
What is your latitude? 

* * * Look at a map 
or ask an adult to help 
you find your exact 

How close were you? 


-&^^^^ C ^^ 1 

Constellation riddles 

* ft 

* Draw the shape of each constellation by connecting the numbered stars in order. 
* * Connect the stars and write the name of each constellation next to its story below. 



1 1, +:•• 



M * 


♦ 8 



V 4? + 

10^+ + 

t : 




4 + 

♦ 8 



+ 4 
+ 5 ♦ 


MO b 


* ^8 

+ 9 Orion 

4 Cygnus 

1 <3 





| ++ + 




7 +% 


+ 5 * 

3 ^ ^ 

4 - 

♦ ♦ 

. 4 

♦ V 





+ + 





I am a mighty hunter. I hunt with a bow and carry a sword in my belt. I am usually seen 
during the winter because I stay away from my enemy, the scorpion, who is visible in 
the summer. Who am I?.... 

I am a lion with a bright heart. Although I am lying down right now, I am still a fearsome 
beast seen during the spring and summer. Who am I?.... 

I am the scorpion whose powerful claws and stinger chase the hunter across the 
sky. I am on a mission to chase him forever. I am seen in the southern sky during the 
summer. Who am I?.... 

I am a beautiful queen whose pride almost killed my daughter, Andromeda. I can be 
seen sitting in my "W"-shaped throne in fall, but as punishment for my pride I hang 
upside down half of each night. Who am I?.... 

I am half horse and half man, although now people often refer to me as a "teapot." I 
tutored the great heroes Achilles and Hercules. I guard the southern sky in summer. 
Who am I?.... 

I am a swan, and I gracefully glide down the Milky Way during summer and fall. I am 
sometimes known as the "Northern Cross." Who am I?.... 


ft * 

Same stars, different stories 


People around the world make up different 

stories about the shapes they see in the stars. 

The constellation we know as the Big Dipper 

was known to both Native Americans and 

Greeks as a big bear. To farmers in England, it 

was known as a plow, and to fishermen in oug 

Australia, it was known as a canoe. Germans called it a big 
wagon, Arabians saw a coffin followed by three mourners, 
and the Chinese knew it as a grain measure. People see 
objects that are important to their way of 
life in the stars. 





. + + 

♦ ♦ 


♦ + 


+ + 


♦ ♦ 

+ + 

♦ ♦ 


s+ ♦ 

Grain measure 

* Using 
the starfield 
to the left, 


some stars 

to make 

v our own 

*** Make 
U P a story, 
about your 

c °nste//at/on. 

* 3 matches 

* * 5 matches 

* * * 8 matches 

Globular cluster 


Star-forminq nebula 

Galaxy cluster 

Deep-sky match 

Draw a line from each picture to its description. 

Many galaxies living in the same 

Ball of ice and dust that passes 

by Earth and often has a "tail" 

of gas streaming out behind 

Group of tightly packed old, yellow stars 

Two stars that orbit each other 

Gas left behind when a star's core 

collapses (through old telescopes, it 

looked round like a planet) 

Thick cloud of gas from 
which new stars can form 

Gas, dust, and billions of stars in a 
flattened shape with spiral arms 

Chunk of rocky debris usually found 
between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter 

* £? 

Spiral galaxy 

Planetary nebula 



Binary star system 

cavenger nun 

Go out at night, let your eyes adjust 
to the darkness, and look around. 
Cross off everything that you find! 

* Two 
** Four 
*** Six 

mad e light 

ft * 

Star formation picture jumble 

Stars have life cycles just like plants and animals! All stars begin from thick clouds of gas and 
dust. In their first stage, they are called a protostar I I and are surrounded by a disk of gas 
and dust. The size of the star determines what type of life it will lead and how long it will 
live. Red dwarf stars I I are smaller than our Sun. Because they live for so long, they have 
not yet evolved past their first life stage. A Sun-like star spends most of its life as a yellowish 
ball of gas I I with burning hydrogen in its core. Once it uses up all its hydrogen, it evolves 
into a red giant I I before its core collapses and leaves the gas behind to form a planetary 
nebula R. Its core then becomes a white dwarf I I and slowly cools. A star a bit larger 
than the Sun will live as a white giant I I and evolve into a red supergiant I |, and then 
explode in a supernova F*J. A star much larger than a white giant will spend its short life as 

a blue supergiant ^ J that evolves into 


an even bigger red supergiant I I. It 
finally collapses into a powerful black 
hole IKJ All of the gas that gets sent out 
into space by supernovae and planetary 
nebulae I I eventually forms clouds of 
gas and dust that become nurseries for 
new stars, and the cycle continues. 

* * * In the picture jumble on the left, 
find the sequences that represent the life 
cycles of each of the four types of stars. 
The sequences may be vertical, horizontal, 
or diagonal. Write the number found in the 
corner of each picture in the blanks below 
and do the math (addition and subtraction) 
to discover how long each star will live. 

Red Dwarf: 

billion years 

Sun-like Star: 

White Giant: 

+ + 

. + + 

billion years 

Blue Supergiant: 

million years 
_ million years 

A-Mazing galaxy 

Our solar system and all of the stars that we can see with our eyes are part of a spiral galaxy 
named the Milky Way. The Milky Way can only be seen when it is really dark. Have you ever 
seen the Milky Way? It got it's name because the ancient Greeks thought it looked like spilled 
milk flowing across the sky 

* Can you find your 
way from the outer 
edge of the galaxy all 
the way to the giant 
^ black hole in its 


An artists idea of the Milky Way. 

What we see from Earth. 

Junior Ranger 


As a Junior Ranger - Night Explorer, I promise to enjoy and protect the 
night sky by exploring my nightime environment, not disturbing anything 
wild and remembering that light is a tool that I must use responsibly. 

Junior Ranger Signature 


Park Ranger Signature 



nr\l Coloradq - I 


Night Sky 


To learn more about light pollution, visit 

To learn more about astronomy, visit 

To learn more about what is up at night, visit 

You can explore National Parks right from your own home! 

Start earning your Webranger patch at 

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«»fc ft 'JP 


nior Ranger